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July's RE of the Month: Andrew A. Toledo
Andrew A. Toledo, M.D.
Last week, we attended RESOLVE’s inspiring Night of Hope at the Tavern on the Green in New York City where Dr. Andrew Toledo was honored with the Hope Award for Advocacy. We’d like to add to his laurels and recognize him as Fertility Authority’s RE of the Month. Toledo’s efforts to raise public awareness about infertility by publically lobbying on behalf of infertile couples, and his outspoken interest in mandated insurance coverage for treatment really made us take notice.
Taking Down S.B. 169
When Octomom opened the floodgates, Georgia was one of the first states to seek to regulate the number of embryos transferred during IVF. Toledo, the legislative chair of the Georgia Reproductive Society, knew it was time to act.
RBA took the lead on fighting the bill alongside the ACRM [Atlanta Center for Reproductive Medicine], GRS [Georgia Reproductive Specialists] and the Macon Group [Central Georgia Fertility Institute].” Though clinics “normally compete against each other,” in this case they put on a united front. “We put forth a team effort and fought a common battle,” Toledo proudly states.
The tens of thousands of people who turned out in protest were able to defeat the legislation. While the clinics were powerful, the “real credit” for their success “goes to patients who spoke out, to RESOLVE and to infertility support groups, ” Toledo claims.
Toledo feels strongly about protecting patients’ rights. Perhaps the reason he’s most passionate about the right to receive case-by-case treatment is due to the fact that he and his wife are IVF patients. “My wife was 44 and on her fifth cycle and we transferred five embryos,” he says. Their daughter is now 9 months old.
“Every situation is unique,” he believes. “Guidelines that are general allow us to make exceptions for individual women.” Even if a women is under 35, he says, the number of embryos transferred should depend on “what she’s been through.”
Making Treatment Affordable
Toledo says he “yearns to help the hard-working, middle class couple” who needs treatment but can’t afford it. “Infertility is a disease,” he states, and fertility treatments “are not an elective process like to tummy tuck or facelift.” He is a proponent of mandated insurance coverage.
Toledo’s hopeful that IVF -- a high overhead business -- will become less expensive and more accessible. “As we get better at what we do, we will be more successful the first time around and the instruments we use should come down in cost.” Oh, and while he’s at it, he’d like to see the “cost of drugs come down.”
Whether legislative or societal, things will start to change “when we are able to make more non-infertiles aware of what couples go through and have them truly understand how lucky they are to have the children they have.”
Upping the Caregiving Standard
“I am humbled by what the process does to people,” Toledo confesses. “I actually felt very helpless when my wife and I went through treatment.”
Doctors, in general, need to “do better” when it comes to patient care. Specifically, “we need to take more time with our patients, to touch base, to fully explain the process to them,” he added.
Although it is “impossible” for a doctor to be hands on in every aspect of the IVF process, Toledo believes a doctor himself should handle the embryo transfer procedure. And, if there is bad news to deliver, a doctor should be the one who makes the call. “You owe your patient as much of an explanation as possible about why the process didn’t work.” Toledo encourages his patients to come in to see him and go over the results. “I find this may help – even in the smallest way – to give patients closure they need to move forward. “
So what can a patient can do to get the most out of the doctor/patient relationship? “Do your homework,” Toledo recommends. “Do whatever you can to educate yourself on the process and on the causes of your infertility. Read up on your treatment and know what the success rates are for your age.”
Use your doctor as your resource! “I encourage patients to come to my office to meet with me, list of questions in hand.”
There you go. You heard it! Straight from the doctor’s mouth.
Andrew A. Toledo, M.D. is the medical director of Reproductive Biology Associates and has treated infertile couples in the Atlanta area for more than 20 years.
A native of Tampa, Florida, Dr. Toledo received his medical degree in 1979 from the University of South Florida. He completed his residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology in 1983, as well as his fellowship in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility in 1985 at the University of Louisville. He came to Atlanta in 1985 after joining the Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics at Emory University, and was Co-director of the Reproductive Endocrinology Section at the Emory Clinic until he left to join Reproductive Biology Associates in 1990.
Dr. Toledo is board-certified in Reproductive Endocrinology and Obstetrics and Gynecology by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology. He is a member of numerous medical societies, including the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), the Society of Reproductive Endocrinologists, and the Society of Reproductive Surgeons. Dr. Toledo served as President of the Georgia Obstetrical and Gynecological Society (2003-2004) and the Atlanta Obstetrical and Gynecological Society (2005-2006). He is currently the Legislative Chair of the Georgia Obstetrical and Gynecological Society and is very active in the legislative process.
Dr. Toledo has four children. He and his wife enjoy many activities, including running, weight-training, swimming, golf and tennis.